DALLAS, TX – An intense quarterfinal matchup between #11-ranked Minnesota and #13 Atlanta took place first thing Saturday morning, with one of the last few spots at Championships at stake. A close, back and forth game was decided in the final jam as Minnesota’s jammer broke free for lead status and called off the jam 0-0, holding the final score at 146-144 in Minnesota’s favor.
Minnesota opened the game with two back to back lead calls and five points. Atlanta responded quickly, putting their first 15 points on the board in one jam by Trouble MakeHer. Leading Minnesota’s jammer rotation was Jacked Pipes, and in her second jam out she picked up a forearm. Giving up lead, Pipes was still able to score 9 points, but Jammunition got 11 as well.
Almost ten minutes in, Atlanta was ahead 45-18 after being able to put up three double-digit jams, meanwhile forcing Minnesota to pass the star. Defense was solid on both sides, but impressive holds by Blaque Jac and Owl B. Merciless kept Minnesota from putting up many points despite their 70% lead status in the first half.
With Brickyard out with a broken ankle, Minnesota relied heavily on a core rotation of Jacked Pipes, Second Hand Smoke and recent transfer from the DC Rollergirls, Switch Please. 15 minutes into the game, Smoke maintained 100% lead status and after Ana Cheng sat in the box for a full minute, Smoke closed the gap to 53-45, still in Atlanta’s favor. However, the power jam marked a change in a momentum for Minnesota.
MNRG continued to chip away, and this time it was their defenders Hurtrude Stein and Madrad holding down the pack, forcing Atlanta to pass the star. After a full rotation of their jammers put up points, including four by Shock Therapy, Minnesota took over the lead 62-54.
A few jams later, when both jammers escaped from the pack, a charging/misconduct call was assessed to Switch Please, which allowed Atlanta to narrow the lead to 72-70. By halftime, Minnesota clung onto the lead 91-84. They took four jammer penalties to three by Atlanta, but overall each team was keeping their blockers on the track most of the time, which made it such a slow, hard struggle for the jammers.
Minnesota grabbed lead status in the first three jams back, but the second one ended in Atlanta’s favor 3-1. Afro Dykee stole those points and had emerged as Atlanta’s biggest strength in the star. A few jams later Fro put up nine more points and inched Minnesota’s lead to eight points.
As Atlanta continued to close the gap to just 2 points with Minnesota clinging to their lead at just under 15 minutes left to play in the game, both teams pulled back from offense to refocus on solidifying their walls.
Minnesota continued to stay ahead after Switch Please scored three points, but a star pass by Atlanta was able to sneak in two points, bringing the score to 125-122. Atlanta finally got what they wanted when Afro Dykee ushered in a lead change with a 14-point jam, 135-127, and ten minutes left to play. Atlanta’s Instant Karma claimed another lead status but despite the advantage, Minnesota was able to grab two points. After two consecutive lead calls for Minnesota, they closed the gap to one point. Atlanta struck back with lead status and one additional point, again by Fro.
Photo credit: Michele J. Hale.
In the next jam, Trouble MakeHer picked up a penalty allowing Switch Please to put up two scoring passes and reclaimed the game lead 145-138 with under five minutes to play.
With time on their side, Second Hand Smoke pushed out Ana Cheng at the start of the jam and then drew her back all the way around the track, though not quite far enough to be reabsorbed in the pack. Just after earning lead status, Ana Cheng was sent to the box, creating a power jam for Minnesota and a full two-minute jam. Neither team would budge and even after Smoke passed on the star, either side could only claim a single point, 146-139.
Unfortunately for Minnesota, Jacked Pipes was sent out on a penalty next and Atlanta brought the score within 2 points, 146-144. Atlanta called a timeout and stopped the clock at 23 seconds. Minnesota followed up with both of their timeouts to give plenty of rest to their skaters.
Out of the break, Atlanta chose to send Trouble MakeHer to the line, despite only earning lead once this half and Afro Dykee scoring 81 total points this game. Minnesota responded with their lead scorer, Jacked Pipes. Atlanta had the pack advantage 4:3 and it became an intense struggle for both jammers as lead status would make the game for either side. DJ FART NOIZE came out of the box to try and play offense for Pipes but was sent right back. It seemed as if Trouble MakeHer was finding momentum at the front of the pack, but Pipes was finally able to escape, and after being awarded lead status, called off the jam with the period clock at zero. That ended the game in Minnesota’s favor 146-144 and advanced them to not only a semifinal game against Victoria later in the day, but a spot at Championships.